By Najda Aslanyan, 3L
President of the Armenian Law Students Association
On April 24th, the Armenian Law Students Association (ALSA) was honored to have Mark Geragos as a keynote speaker who discussed the definition of genocide in international law and the politics behind it to Thomas Jefferson School of Law students and local San Diego attendees.
Mr. Geragos started his speech by giving a little bit of background on what area of law he practices in and who he has represented. Geragos’ down-to-earth attitude and numerous amusing stories such as his questioning of “Who is Chris Brown and what is a Rihanna?” to his daughter when first retained, filled the room with laughter many times.
Geragos’ informative talk about the Armenian Genocide and his role as one of the lead attorneys in a pair of groundbreaking federal class action lawsuits against New York Life Insurance and AXA for insurance policies issued in the early 20th century during the time of the Armenian Genocide of more than 1.5 million Armenians captured all of the attendees’ attention.
Geragos went on to discussing how a class action lawsuit was filed against these insurance companies for not paying compensations to the descendants of those who perished during the Armenian Genocide. Geragos stated that these insurance companies’ archives are a living proof of Turkey’s destruction of its Armenian subjects as they demonstrate a great increase in the number of Armenians living in Turkey dying from 1915 to 1923. Geragos indicated that both cases were settled for more than $37.5 million and that the Turkish government’s attempt to recover for the people it had killed with the argument that there are no identifiable heirs to the policy holders did not succeed.
Geragos ended his speech with advising Armenian law students to set their educational goals high to be more credible individuals, get politically involved, and form Armenian clubs and hold such events to raise awareness to non-Armenians about our history and culture.
Unrecognized Genocides was one of ALSA’s biggest events. Many faculty members like Professor Wenger posted pictures on their social media captioning the event as “standing room only at the Armenian Genocide talk at Thomas Jefferson School of Law.”